Central Restaurant Products is a proud supporter of the Make-a-Wish foundation, a not-for-profit organization with the “vision to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition” (see their “About Us” section). Every year, they recruit the help of thousands and thousands of volunteers and donors to make this vision a reality for children and families who have been dealt an unfair hand.
Central is proud to support this cause. It is our personal goal to make a wish come true for one child and their family every quarter. We like to give more than money, too. At Central, every employee receives a paid Volunteer Day every year to use to give back to their community.
For the past several years, many employees have chosen to use their Volunteer Day to participate in WZPL’s annual Make-a-Wish Request-a-thon, hosted live on air by the popular Smiley Morning Show. Through a thirty-six hour period, listeners can call in to request a song to play, and make a donation that goes directly to granting a wish. This fundraiser event is only achievable through the help of volunteers, and it is because of their determination and passion to serve that this year, the Request-a-thon was able to raise $706,145, enough to make 88 wishes come true.
Central employees Kate, Shannon, Galen, and Armando volunteer their time to make wishes come true.
Every year, early in December, many in the Indiana community grab their tissues and tune into local radio station WZPL for the annual Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon. Over the last 18 years this event has been held, the station stays on-air for 36 hours straight to raise money that grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.
The Smiley Morning Show has been hosting the event for the past 13 years and their group alone has helped raise over $4 million. The Request-A-Thon breaks the traditional rules for radio to have fun, take any song requests for donations, share stories from Make-A-Wish families and more.
This year’s event was held on December 4 and 5 and it was one for the record books! In total, the Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon raised $580,000 and granted 72 wishes!
Central has been a Make-A-Wish sponsor since 2012 and has participated in the Request-A-Thon each year since. It is one of our many community outreach events and employees are always so excited to help.
For the Request-A-Thon in particular, WZPL is in need of people to help take calls for donations. This year they had eight open volunteer positions for Central to fill during the last two hours.
We had several employees offer to volunteer and had to draw names out of a hat to choose the eight to go!
Our following employees were chosen: Missy Fishburn, Kate Nolan, Mike Ferrando, Tracy Pitts, Carol Halter, Bob Davidson, Sarah Templeton and Suzanne Maddux.
Shortly after the volunteer’s arrival, Sarah and Mike went on-air with The Smiley Morning Show to talk about our company and present our donation. Both did a great job and were excited to meet the radio show hosts and share information with the listeners.
Missy Fishburn and Mike Ferrando showing Braden he made it to the WZPL Facebook page
The Environment that Inspires
Once you walk in the doors of the call center, you step into a room filled with so much happiness and excitement. Phones are ringing off the hook and every few minutes someone shouts out a large donation amount they took which is then followed by cheers and clapping from the group. It’s filled with people from Make-A-Wish and radio station staff to local celebrities and Make-A-Wish families.
“The feeling when we walked in to the room was exciting, touching and all around great,” said Credit Analyst Missy Fishburn. “To see all the people come together and be a part of making so many of the kid’s wishes come true is something I’ll never forget.”
One of the group’s memorable experiences was meeting and spending time with 9-year-old Braden. Braden whizzed through the call center making friends everywhere he went, putting a smile on everyone’s face and even helped with some phone calls too.
“Braden ended up answering one of my calls and I acted as his secretary for that call,” said Sarah, product consultant at Central. “I was excited to volunteer so I could take as many calls as possible to get as many donations as I could. Having Braden there helping out was a great bit of extra motivation and extra special for me.”
It can be a very emotional and touching experience taking donation calls for the Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon, which makes it so special to those that volunteer. Many times the people on the other end of the line end have tears of joy and are so thankful such an event exists. Other callers may have had their own experiences similar to these Make-A-Wish families which inspire them to donate.
“I had a 27-year-old woman who had 13 surgeries growing up as a child including open heart surgery to commit to being a wishmaker,” said Product Consultant Kate Nolan. When one becomes a wishmaker, they make monthly donations to Make-A-Wish. “Also, there was a mother of two, they were both Riley kids, commit to being a wishmaker as well. She’s a nurse at IU (Indiana University) and wanted to show her support.”
Many of the volunteers received calls from children offering up all they had in either allowance money or money they raised on their own.
“A 12-year-old boy had been saving his money and he didn’t know what to do with it so he told his mom to call in and do the $40-a-month for the year,” said Credit Coordinator Suzanne Maddux. “This was his allowance and birthday money and he wanted to do something good for someone else.”
These calls represent the entire community who participated in this event and made it such a success. From here, these children and their families will be able to have a day, week or experience out of their normal routines that brings them hope and happiness.
More Information for Your Area
Check out photos from this year’s event on the 2014 WZPL Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon Facebook page! If interested in becoming involved in your local Make-A-Wish chapter, you can find yours on the Make-A-Wish’s website. Simply put in your zip code and you can find contact information to help you get started. If your area or company has had a neat or inspiriting volunteering experience, please share below!
From left to right back row: Missy Fishburn, Kate Nolan, Mike Ferrando, Tracy Pitts, Carol Halter and Bob Davidson. From left to right front row: Sarah Templeton, Suzanne Maddux
Brock, 15, loves to play video games, especially Halo according to the Make-A-Wish foundation. In addition to his love for gaming, he is a huge Indianapolis Colts and Notre Dame fan. Unfortunately Brock is a teen battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the blood filtering tissue in the body. Make-A-Wish said the cells in the tissue divide too quickly which causes overcrowding and destruction of the tissue. This can be spread to other organs.
Deciding Walt Disney World
When the Wish-Granting volunteers met with Brock, he knew exactly what he wanted to do: Take a trip to Walt Disney World Resort.
Brock is excited for this one-in-a-lifetime trip with his family. It is a well deserved vacation for all of them to relax and take a break from their normal day-to-day routines.
The Walt Disney Company will provide Brock and his family theme park tickets and other perks as a part of their overall relationship with the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Central is very happy to have helped make Brock’s wish come true.
You Can Help: WZPL’s Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon
For those interested in helping Make-A-Wish candidates like Brock, check out Indianapolis’ 17th annual WZPL 99.5 Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon. This radio event begins at 6 a.m. on Thursday November 14 and runs through at 6 p.m. on Friday November 15 by the Smiley Morning Show. The Request-A-Thon raises money and grant wishes for Central Indiana Make-A-Wish children.
Chelsea, 12, is a young girl who enjoys drawing, painting and all things art related. Unfortunately, she suffers from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer that targets the white blood cells which help fight infections. Since her body can’t always fight infections, Chelsea often has to undergo major treatment.
There is great news for Chelsea and her family though as her wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation has been granted. Chelsea and her family will be traveling to Walt Disney World®.
Chelsea chose Walt Disney World® because she wanted to be somewhere warm and near a beach with a variety of activities for she and her family. It will be a great way to get out of the day-to-day routines as she is often in and out of hospitals.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has a relationship with the Walt Disney Company and will provide Chelsea and her family theme park tickets and more.
Central is very happy to have helped make Chelsea’s wish come true.
Exciting news for 16-year-old Dylan of Breman, Ind., his wish through the Make-A-Wish foundation to meet wrestler Anthony Robles will come true.
Dylan has been diagnosed with Myxopapillary Ependymoma (MEPN), which Make-A-Wish explained is a slow-growing tumor that arises from the supportive tissue of the brain and tend to occur in the lower part of the spine. Symptoms typically include nausea, headaches and numbness.
MEPN doesn’t slow Dylan down though. He loves sports, especially the New York Yankees, New Orleans Saints and Indiana Hoosiers. Make-A-Wish said Dylan also really loves wrestling and is inspired by Anthony Robles.
Robles, 25, was the winner of the 2010-2011 NCAA individual wrestling championship, despite being born with one leg. In addition to his successful wrestling career, Robles is a motivational speaker, author of “Unstoppable–From Underdog to Undefeated: How I Became A Champion” and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012.
Dylan and his family look forward to meeting Robles and listening to his story firsthand. It will be a memory the family will keep with them for a lifetime.
Central is very happy to have helped make Dylan’s wish come true.
Make-A-Wish child, Taylor, 12, has mitochondrial myopathy, which is a group of neuromuscular diseases caused by damage to the mitochondria (small, energy-producing producing structures that serve as the cells “power plants”).
Exciting news, Taylor’s wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation has been granted.
Taylor and her family will be taking a vacation from their Fort Wayne, Ind. home and going to Disney to see the Princess Beauty Shop and Cinderella’s Castle.
In her spare time Taylor enjoys arts and crafts as well as playing with her Barbies or spending time with her three dogs: Cooper, Oscar and Cali.
She also enjoys her favorite TV shows: Good Luck Charlie and Shake It Off.
Central is very happy to have helped make Taylor’s wish come true.